There's a wonderful museum tucked away underground beneath the Gateway Arch in the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial called The Museum of Westward Expansion. This museum documents man's irrepressible urge to explore. The museum made me feel as though I were on the trip to explore and settle lands further and further westward. I was delighted to see that Park Rangers are on hand to answer questions for visitors.
Also under the Arch is a bookstore and gift shop run by the National Park Services.
Personally, I was quite impressed with the size and scope of this museum. My favorites were the gigantic photographs of Indian Chiefs who are wearing the Peace Metals given to them by Lewis and Clark.
Here are Jill's impressions of this museum:
"Underground at the bottom of the arch is the free Museum of Westward Expansion, recording the westward movement of pioneers and their effect on indigenous peoples. It describes the Lewis & Clark expedition. Although this exhibit is 30 years old, it has worn well. It uses the technological advances of the time. Two robotic figures, Lincoln and a Cavalryman with Custer, introduce the exhibit. There are also a number of dioramas with stuffed animals in their habitat. Bear, bison, and long horn steer give a sense of being there. This permanent exhibit uses small artifacts in wall cases and the walls themselves to show shifting scenes as viewers walk by.
Although the scope of the exhibit is the chronology of populating the west, quite a bit of the space deals with Lewis & Clark. Words from the journal illustrate the numerous photo murals. Much of the exhibit's impact comes from the large photos and painting reproductions. One criticism is the lack of identification of famous photos and their photographers."
Open daily 9am- 6pm Winter
Along with the Museum of Westward Expansion and the Old Courthouse, the Gatway to the West is part of Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
It has been build as the symbol of the people leaving for a better life on the western side of the country. Saint Louis was actually the last city they could find before the endless Great Plains of the West. As a reminder of that time, the giant arch proudly stand with its 192 meters high, imitating the shape of the canvas’arches of the pioneers'covered wagons. Designed by Eero Saarinen in 1965, the arch is a wonderful stainless steel gleaming construction. It’s difficult to take a good picture of it unless you’re in a distance.
Inside the Arch, you can visit the museum dedicated to the Westward Expansion, with pictures of Indian Chiefs and stuffed animals as main attraction. I especially remember the giant stuffed bear that stood there, quite impressive !!
You’ll also find a shop selling books and all sorts of souvenirs and a nice fountain in the middle of the museum.
"Well this is the one thing that everyone knows about St Louis"
"That whacking big arch"
"Can you go up it ?"
"Certainly can, the lift is supposed to a masterpiece of engineering. It's actually more of a 'tram' than a 'lift', or 'elevator' I suppose for Americans. Then you can walk out across the very apex. Of course being in America you could'nt possibly use shank's pony and walk up the legs, like you can with the Eiffel tower."
"Any smart comments about it then ?"
"Well, I think it's only half-finished, it looks to me that they should have built another one next to it and painted it yellow"
"Then it would create a giant M...oh I see what you mean..."
"They would have least have got sponsorship for it"
"The McDonald's arch eh ?"
"At least its appropriate, an arch symbolises a new beginning, and once you leave St Louis, the real wild west begins"
"Well saddle 'em up cowboy and we'll hit the trail"
"Yee haa pard-ner"
The Arch forms part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial which consists of the Arch, the Museum of Westward Expansion, and the old Courthouse.
Every year millions of visitors head for the Arch with one goal in mind: a journey to the top, I was no exception.
More information & pictures, Click Here
Hours - Open seven days a week*
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day
Winter (Labor Day to Memorial Day)
9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day)
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m
The basic (adult) price for a ride to the top is $8 with additional offers such as a couple of documentary movies ($7 each) and a Riverboat ride ($10). Combining these will provide you with savings (see their website : www.gatewayarch.com for details).
The arch can be rode to the top and the view of the city is the best. A museum at the bottom of the arch grounds is also a thing that you should go into. They have the history of how the arch was built and a film on the construction process that lasts 30 minutes for $5. Very good show; It is interesting showing the building of the arch.
The arch was completed in 1965 and the trams take over 1 million visitors to the top annually. The view up there at 630 feet allows you to see nearly all of the city for 10 miles panorama. The base at bottom is 54 feet. The trams are old but still functioning. The weight is 17,246 pounds, and the measly cost of $13 million has drawn in much more in tourism dollars, which was the point. IN 1935, the idea was formed. Delays to construct the arch led to finally choosing a design done by Eero Saarinen in 1947, but then it took until 1963 to start construction that lasted 2 year to complete. The design was sleek, but a real problem to build and hold steady form collapsing. The outer facing is stainless steel, and the interior is anchored with concrete throughout.
In our family album is a photo of the Gateway Arch from a trip we took when I was 5 or so. I vaguely remember seeing it (through the faraway veil of that child's mind), but since I was a little girl I knew I'd have to see it again someday and ride the elevator to the top (which I still need to do).
When I found out Radiohead would be in concert not too far away, I knew this was my excuse, er, ticket to return. The Megabus travels to that city from Cincinnati and can be done at a great price. I paid only $46 roundtrip which meant I had no choice but to look for the symbol of St. Louis when I came into town.
And there she was in all her glory! It was like seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris!!
These photos were taken from the bus on the way in; I've posted the best ones.
Photos: May 15, 2008
The St Louis Gateway Arch is a marvel of engineering. The arch was designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1965 and the tram system by Dick Bowser.
The ride to the top of the 630 foot (192 meter) arch is a experience not to be missed and I can only liken it it to a ride in Mork's Egg Spaceship from the television show, "Mork and Mindy." The views are breathtaking once you are at the top!!!!
The "transporter system" was designed in two weeks by a man who actually dropped out of college, Dick Bowser. Bowser and his father developed elevators that could travel horizontally and diagonally. His challenge for the arch was to design a conveyance system to transport 11,000 people in a 14 hour day. Using a combination of elevator principles and Ferris Wheel principles, the "train of capsules" system was born.
Each capsule rotates 155 degrees during the trip to the top of the arch. When the capsule starts out from the lower zone the tracks are overhead but as it goes up the arch the tracks then go beneath the capsule.
Once you exit the capsule you are on a small observation platform within the arch. The windows are tiny because of the immense pressure from the arch itself, if the windows were any bigger they would blow out.
Looking out you can see downtown St Louis on one side and Illinois and the mighty Mississippi River on the other.
During our visit of St. Louis,we just spent few hours seeing the most important places of the city,so this travel page maybe is not very helpful ,because we didn't had more time to explore this beautiful city.I just want to show you all places visited during my short time in St. Louis!.
Of course,the first thing that you must to see in St. Louis,it the beautiful Gateway Arch.Don't miss go to the top,in a small lift,the views are just GREAT!!!
Me at bottom of the Arch.
This beautiful arch is the landmark of St. Louis.
It can be seen everywhere in the city.
Went up in the tram ride which was kind of claustrophic.
At the top, at 630 feet, it was an amazing view of the St. Louis, the Missisippi River and the surroundings on both sides of the arch.
Worth the wait. Not to be missed when you are visiting St. Louis.
(Labor Day to Memorial Day)
9:20 a.m. - 5:10 p.m.
(Memorial Day to Labor Day)
8:20 a.m. - 9:10 p.m.
Trams leave every ten minutes.
Average round-trip visit = 60 minutes
It’s Saint Louis landmark, visible from almost everywhere.
Alerted by some tips I didn’t spend the fortune that costs going up, and to be honest, didn’t see anyone looking for the way up (what a contrast with Eifell tower, for instance).
The park is pleasant and the look of town from there very photogenic.
Here we are my friends and me,on the very small lift that taked us to top of the Arch. It spent about 3 minutes to reach the top,and it is not too fast!! :-)
Above you will find a corridor with small windows at both sides,and you can see some beautiful views of St. Louis and also the river and boats.
There is a separate VT space for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial National Historic Site which includes the Gateway Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion. I was just going to write my tips there, but I was afraid they would get overlooked, so I'm writing them for St. Louis too.
This is a Historical site where I could get my National Park passport stamped. After we drove around the whole park, we parked in the garage and walked to the arch. Unfortunately, while I had my cane, I left my Golden Age card and the NPS passport in the car. So I had to get a stamp on a piece of paper, and we also had to pay full price for going up in the arch. The arch is NOT handicapped accessible as there are steps to get down to the visitor's center, and also up to the cars. (photo 4)
The views from the top (photo 2) were amazing, and while we were there some workmen came and opened up the floor and consulted the blueprints (photo 3). We went down in the 12:46 car (takes 3 minutes going down),
If you visit St. Louis, that is the must see attraction, but I am not sure I would recommend going up to the top for everyone. I personally did not like being up there, and I am not usually at all afraid of heights. It made me uncomfortable to sit in the little elevator, and to be up there with not much room. We did get some cool photos from the top.
In the bottom of the arch is a nice museum about the early pioneers that went west and lived in the area.
Be prepared to wait a long time to get in the arch, if you plan on doing so.
As the most recognized symbol of St. Louis, any traveler must see the Gateway Arch. At the top of the arch, one looks down 630 feet over the city, the Mississippi River and beyond.
A warning for anyone with claustrophobia: the ride to the top requires a four minute ride in a very small, egg-shaped capsule that holds four people. It is very claustrophobic. Now I know how Mork from Ork must've felt...
Don't miss it.
Since we were only in St. Louis for a day and boat cruises were not in operation on a winter day, we decided to explore the monumental Gateway Arch that can be seen from anywhere around downtown St. Louis.
Down the Arch is the Museum of Westward Expansion.
There were interesting exhibitions of how men lived and survived in the 1800s and replicas of the wagon and animals they used. See giant murals of historical figures and read about how Lewis and Clark explored the land. You can explore it for a good 45 minutes or you can decide to take the tram up the arch (for a fee).
Museum Admission is free. Open 9 am - 5pm (Winter) and 8 am - 5pm (Summer).